Wednesday, March 30, 2022

What the Mature Ladycat is Wearing This Spring

A friend of a friend made a flannel shirt for Minuet. It’s light and soft and, I think, comfortable. It fits very well, though I did cut half an inch out of the bottom of each arm-hole, which I think allows Min to climb better. She wore it all last night, didn’t take it off and, I am pretty sure, didn’t try to. To judge by the slightly different way she lie on her heated cat-bed, I think she found it warm, and moved a little away from the space-heater in the night.

I intend to keep it on her in the evening, through the night and the early morning, but remove it during the warmth of the day. She started to groom as soon as I took it off today. She can wash her face and other parts while wearing her shirt, but simply wearing it inhibits her a bit in terms of cleaning herself. (She is very clean and able to wash herself well; the shortness of her hair now abets this hygiene.)

This garment is just the thing for Madame, I think. It is snug enough for her not to take off, not tight enough for her to want to; easy for me to remove and put on; warm and light: the perfect fashion for the mature ladycat this spring.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Curly Whisker

Minuet is periodically sharing the library with Neville now. I have mixed feelings about that. I want her to become accustomed to the other beasts, and this is one way of doing it. But Neville lies on the top of the carpeted bookcase, which prevents Min from using the cat-tree and lying there herself.

I think the Nevsky has discovered that, due to the electric heater in the library, it’s warmer than the rest of the house, which probably appeals to him since his shave. I don’t have to allow him to stay there all the time, of course; Minuet will still have access to her tree and the window.

In the meantime, I’ll share with you Madame’s curling whisker. It reminded me of cat-blogger Katie Isabella’s monocle. As far as I can tell, Minuet’s eye-sight is still pretty good. Her whisker doesn't quite form a monocle, but maybe it comes close...

Sunday, March 27, 2022

He Should Be Called Visa

Hector has not been as seriously affected as I had feared by Auric’s move to a new home. He does not seem more bored by his lack of a playmate – though I am sure he is feeling Auric’s absence – and keeps himself occupied by running about, annoying Renn and Neville and watching Minuet more.

He also has attached himself more firmly, or perhaps just more often, to me. He always liked to rub up against me, and spend time where I was. Now, it happens more frequently, and he follows me on a number of my chores.

The trouble with that is that Hector’s shadowing has a time-lag to it. When I walk to the right, he follows, but late enough still to be going right when I turn left. He will follow closely enough so that there is no room for moving to one side or the other without first bumping into him. And preparing something in the kitchen usually involves gently moving a horizontal black cat aside with my foot, as if he were a furry broom-head.

These characteristics are more pronounced when I need to do something. It’s as if Hec feels he needs to accompany me in ‘real-time’, as it were, but lacks the foresight to know precisely what I intend to do from second to second. He becomes, therefore, an impediment.

I know this is a temporary trait, but for right now, I feel like he should be called Visa, because he’s “everywhere I want to be.”

Friday, March 25, 2022

Heat Rises

Because I can’t find a proper cat-sweater for Minuet, I worry about her being cold without her fur. I borrowed a space-heater and, clearing out some books, installed it on the lowest shelf of a bookcase in the library, close to and facing her favourite spot behind the couch.

During the evening and night, Min sleeps on her heated cat-bed, which now has the additional warmth from the space-heater. She doesn’t seem to feel the need of an extra temperature during much of the day, as she spends most of it on the cat-tree, or lying in the gentler warmth of the sunlight, on the carpeted top of the lower bookcase.

I would still like to find her a proper sweater, but unless it fits her perfectly, it will inhibit her climbing the tree, which won’t do at all. This rules out dog-sweaters and any cat-sweater ordered through the mail, as the chances of it fitting just right are slim. For now, though, I think the various sources of heat she is receiving will suffice.

With regard to her roommates, Minuet is doing well. She still yells at them but not as vociferously as she has; nor does their proximity stop her from doing what she is doing, which is usually drinking water. (Though she has a bowl of water in the library, she seems to prefer those in the corridor and the bedroom. Perhaps it’s a case of glass versus ceramic.) The older cats avoid her for the most part, while Hector stays out of her way except when he thinks he can get the drop on her. Then he rushes at her, usually without making contact. When he does touch her, it is not violent. Even so, Min hates it. I try to stop it but have only partial success, and who knows how often it happens when I am absent.

But, for the most part, I am pleased with Madame’s integration. She is free to roam about the apartment even when I am at work, and, of course, the others are free to enter the library. They are growing accustomed, establishing boundaries and learning about one another. And in these lessons are the beginnings of compatibility.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Health and Otherwise

More than one reader has asked after Renn’s health. I thought it a good time to give a general review of the beasts’ well-being.

8th September, 2021

Renn:           6.83 kg (15 lbs)

Neville:         7.45 kg (16.42 lbs)

12th January, 2022

Renn:           5.9 kg (13 lbs)

17th February, 2022

Minuet:           5.8 kg (12.79 lbs)

22nd March, 2022

Renn:           6.47 kg (14.26 lbs)

Neville:         7.38 kg (16.27 lbs)

Hector:         5.42 kg (11.95 lbs)

Minuet:         5.25 kg (11.57 lbs)

Renn is doing better than I expected. I don’t think the Mirtazapine is helping him all that much. I have found that it can be inconsistent, probably because the form in which I give it is a compound to be applied transdermally, and thus the concentration may not always be the same. I know at one time Raleigh was given a prescription for what I recorded in my blog as ‘an appetite-stimulant’ (undoubtedly Mirtazapine), and that was every three days. I seem to recall Tucker receiving a similar dose. Renn’s is every day.

However, Renn is currently eating to my satisfaction, though this began rather before the Mirtazapine. He generally chooses between two kinds of hard-food, for which he will often ask. I present him with both bowls; sometimes he eats from just one, other times from both in succession. They are decent foods in terms of nutrition and I believe that the hard-food’s bulk is adding to his weight. Considering that he has been losing pounds for some time, this reversal is pleasing, though I worry that it is temporary. My big boy consumes very little soft-food nowadays.

Hector is too heavy for his size, I believe, but he loves his food, especially the soft varieties, and I feed him too much. But he is active and in good shape.

Another fatty is Neville. He is far too wide. He is not active, not in any way, and refuses to be stimulated to any unnecessary movement. As far as I can tell, he enjoys his life, but his life consists mainly of sleeping and eating. He does put on a burst of speed sometimes when exiting the litter-box, not unusual for many cats, but that doesn’t burn off many calories. Aside from his weight, however, he is doing well, and his previous ‘curve’ showed some good management of his diabetes.

I am still learning about Minuet and what she should be like. I have not lived with a very-oldster before but I think for a cat heading toward twenty, she is in very good condition. Now and then she seems a little unsteady on her legs, but she has no problem climbing her new cat-tree, and periodically she still resorts to jumping up on it from the back of the couch, so she must be doing well.

I worry about her loss of weight. But very-oldsters are usually light and thin. At her February veterinary visit, Minuet was rated as over-weight by the doctor who, however, expressed satisfaction at the poundage, remarking, as I have done before, that a cat - especially an elderly one - can lose weight so precipitately during an illness that a margin for loss is not necessarily a bad thing.

While there are some factors on which I must keep an eye, the condition of the Cosy Apartment’s feline inmates is good, if not very good. I am pleased. For now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Feeling Optimistic

The shaving of Minuet and Neville appear to have been good moves, especially for Madame. As a couple of readers have commented, knots and mats, particularly on the legs, or under them, can inhibit movement, perhaps even by causing pain. As mentioned in the previous bog-entry, before Sunday, Minuet accessed her new cat-tree by the back of the library’s couch. Though she still does, if she is in front of the couch, she just as often climbs from the floor up. She has rested on the very top platform - something new just this morning - and will lie on one of the upper levels and watch passers-by through the library’s open door.

In response to her new lack of insulation, I initially tried a sweater, which Min tolerated. But it didn’t survive the night. She shed it some time before Monday morning and wet on it. I think the latter was accidental, as it was probably not completely off of her when she used the litter-boxes; there was no urine on the floor. A second shirt was wrapped around her waist when I returned from work yesterday. The trouble is that these are dog-garments; cat-sweaters are impossible to come by, and dog-sweaters are made for different anatomies. I could probably send for something on the internet, but buying clothes - for man or beast - without being able to try them on is fraught with hazards and, later, unsuccessful attempts to return the items.

However, Minuet has her heated bed, which she has been using, and I will be getting her a space-heater to warm the room in general. But this morning when the apartment would have been at its coolest, I found Min on top of the bookcase, looking out the window, so she wasn’t cold enough to resort to her bed. And during the afternoon and early evening, the sun has returned its rays to the apartment. Even so, I will be accommodating her age and lack of hair with extra heat.

Neville, not to be forgotten, has used a heated bed after his own shave. But then, he retired to the bedroom and snoozed on the cat-tree nearest the window, which was open half an inch for fresh air during the night.  He knows where he can go for warmth; he just doesn’t always need it.

Things are moving along at the Cosy Apartment. The library is no longer closed at night - and I know Minuet comes out to drink from the water-bowl in the corridor (even though she has one of her own) - and today is the first time Madame’s safe-room will be open during my absence at work. She knows how to keep the other beasts at bay, though her protests at their presence are not as strong as they once were. Perhaps, in a  few years, I won’t even hear her yell at them. It may take less than a decade! But then, I’m feeling optimistic today.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

A Busy and Successful Day

Well! It was a busy and successful day at the Cosy Apartment.

It was shaving day for two of the beasts. Minuet’s coat is of dry, coarse hair, and was full of mats; so many, and so close to the skin, in some cases, that combing, or cutting with scissors, were impractical. Neville too suffers from mats. His long, thick hair is not impossible to comb and brush, and the mats not impervious to snipping, but he dislikes both remedies, so it was decided to shave him, as well. A very good friend of the rescue-group was asked to shave the cats; this friend is excellent with trimmers, quick but careful, and she agreed cheerfully to do the job.

Two other ladies from the rescue-group came to help, as shaving cats is sometimes a multi-person job. However, we were all very surprised at how docile both Min and Nev were during their ordeals. Minuet protested verbally toward the end of her shave, particularly as that involved her farther regions, but only objected physically when she had to be held up for a tummy trim. Neville, whom I expected to put up a struggle – though not a violent one – barely resisted. Consequently, the shaves were close and neat and complete.

Minuet’s shave exposed some old scars. Her previous owner had told us that Min had been badly shaved before, to the point of the trimmers cutting into her skin, an injury which later caused infection. These are the marks that may look like wounds in her photographs. They have healed but I can’t help wondering at her docility during this new shave, considering what had occurred under inept hands in the past.

Madame will wear a sweater until her fur grows back. The one she has now is rather too large for her, so I will try to buy a better one tomorrow. For now, though, blue is her colour.

Neville, being younger (he is but middle aged by my reckoning; senior by any veterinary’s), won’t require a sweater. He has a history of eschewing warm spots, anyway, though he has favoured snug cat-beds periodically. Both cats have been provided with heated beds. Minuet has already spent some time on hers.

A minor miracle transpired after Minuet’s shave. In the two weeks that she has had her new cat-tree, Madame has disdained its full utility. She has used it, but only because it was unavoidable. Prior to its arrival, she would ascend to the carpetted top of the library’s lower bookcase by scrabbling up the back of the couch, and then pulling herself up to the bookcase’s top. This arduous climb was why I had the cat-tree made. With its placement between the couch and the bookcase, she has had no option but to use it. But she used only a couple of its steps: those that intervened between the back of the couch and the lower bookcase. I had been thinking those must be the most expensive couple of steps ever purchased for a cat.

But immediately after her shave, Minuet, wearing her sweater, climbed the cat-tree, from the floor to the bookcase, slowly stepping from one platform to the other. I couldn’t believe my eyes. But I had to credit my sight when I observed her later climb down the same way. It was one of those changes in feline behaviour that seems so casually performed as if to intimate that there had never been any other way of doing it.

She may not resort to the cat-tree every time; I suspect she will. It surely must be easier on her old bones than her prior method. The question in my mind is not whether the action will be repeated, but why it was done now. Is it merely a coincidence that it followed immediately upon a shave, or had the mats been so debilitating that they prevented her from climbing the tree? This possibility seems unlikely, since she has been agile enough to achieve her purpose in other ways. Nonetheless, I am quite pleased. It’s like seeing a cat play with the actual toy one has bought for it, rather than the box in which it came.

A busy and successful day at the Cosy Apartment, I think I am justified in claiming; much accomplished. Oh, and one of the ladies who came to assist is so adept at cutting cats’ claws that she was able to snip Hector’s, a task I had been unable to accomplish, to my periodic pain. Yes, a busy and successful day…

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Rolling River Shore

Auric was delivered to his new home yesterday. I have heard nothing yet of his reaction, though anything he does will not be typical of his response to his new environment anyway, at this stage. I don’t imagine that he will have difficulty adjusting.

In the meantime, though, there have been adjustments in the Cosy Apartment. Whenever a cat leaves me, whether through death or adoption, the routine seems easier, simpler. That makes sense, with fewer cats, but some will have required more attention than others, if they are sick or, in Auric’s case, young and forever curious. With him, I was always thinking, ‘Where is he? What’s he doing? What’s he into?’ If things were quiet, I would go and investigate.

But there is also an effect on the cats, as well. Specifically, there appears to be a change in Minuet. She appears to sense that the most intrusive feline is gone. Auric was going into the library repeatedly over the last week. On the one hand, Minuet must grow more used to her roommates; on the other, Auric could be quite forward in his acquaintance, not taking into account others’ requirements or desires.

I decided, upon Auric’s departure, to leave the library door open at night. Last night was the first trial of that new policy (literally, an ‘open-door’ policy) and, except for one mild screech when, I think, Min encountered Neville while exploring, all was quiet. But today, she was out of the library frequently. The remaining boys are much less likely to instigate meetings; Madame appreciates this. Her protests at seeing another cat are less vociferous. Hector hurriedly backed away when Min warned him from her proximity in the morning, but, later, she was content to allow him to remain in her presence, a few harsh barks sufficing to register her complaint. I think this may be the beginning of a relationship similar to that which Cammie had with the others: a grumbling co-existence, reinforced by periodic screams of indignation.

We at the Cosy Apartment can live with that.